TV Recap: Key Members of the X-Men Return in This Week’s “X-Men ’97”

After last week’s huge episode of X-Men ‘97, this week’s episode had a very tough act to follow. And while it didn’t exactly match the stakes of that installment, this sixth episode made quite an impact, with two different stories being told for some of the most iconic X-Men characters.

This week’s episode, titled “Lifedeath – Part 2,” opens once again with some changes to the intro. This week, Nightcrawler gets his own character intro after returning last week, Nimrod appears inside Master Mold and gets in on some action, we see Bishop and the futuristic versions of Storm and Wolverine from the “One Man’s Worth” storyline, the X-Men battle Gladiator and the Imperial Guard and Charles Xavier shares a romantic moment with Lilandra.

Surprisingly, the episode opens with a space battle between the Kree and the Shi’ar.

Deathbird crashes through the window of a Kree ship and takes out what looks to be the captain. Ronan the Accuser, who we know from Guardians of the Galaxy, opposes her but the Imperial Guard, led by Gladiator, break in and the Kree are overmatched. Deathbird is searching for the Supreme Intelligence, who has seemingly run off somewhere (and somehow?).

The Shi’ar are an alien race who have had a long relationship with Charles Xavier and the X-Men. At the end of X-Men: The Animated Series, Lilandra, with whom Charles has an on-again-off-again romantic relationship, taking a wounded Xavier into space in order to save his life.

Deathbird’s interrogation of Ronan is interrupted though when she receives a message from her sister, Lilandra, who is the Empress of the Shi’ar empire. Through a hologram, Lilandra announces to the Shi’ar people that she is to marry Charles Xavier. The news is met with questioning murmurs from the people.

Charles and Lilandra share a moment in a garden of some sort and Xavier expresses his concerns with the public opinion of their marriage. He also tells her he wishes to visit Earth as a sort of honeymoon but Lilandra worries they will get stuck there, given the frequent drama associated with the X-Men. Back in their bedroom, Lilandra tells Xavier to message the X-Men and invite them to the wedding, but Charles continues to press for a trip to Earth himself.

Cutting to what I suppose would be considered the A story of this episode, we rejoin Storm and Forge in their cabin. Forge is suffering from the attack from the Adversary as Storm tries to help him. The Adversary, still appearing as an owl-like creature, tries to convince her to let him die. Storm tries to leave the cabin for help but the Adversary has her trapped in the cabin. After Storm suffers another series of nightmarish visions, Forge rushes in and uses the mystic arts to trap the Adversary. The power appears very reminiscent of those we see from Doctor Strange in the MCU. He explains that his mother practiced desert magic and he learned some of it from her. In the comics, Forge does in fact wield some Native American magic.

Forge tells Storm about a cactus that grows in a cave that can be used to heal his wounds from the Adversary. He refuses to let her go on her own though and they plan to ride off together to find this cactus. Interestingly, Storm refers to Forge as her love, a bit of a turn from the last time we saw them.

Back in space, Lilandra and Charles face the Shi’ar council to discuss concerns with their wedding. Deathbird arrives with her own concerns, specifically because Charles is Terran. She invoked “the Rite of M’Dashaa,” which means she challenges Charles to a test of his loyalty to the Shi’ar. The test she chooses is having his mind wiped of all memory of Earth and the X-Men. And given his psychic abilities, Lilandra is the only telepath strong enough to do it.

Charles speaks briefly with Gladiator and their conversation leads to a though of Magneto, whom Charles admits he wishes to remember. Lilandra overhears this and questions if he had made his decision. Lilandra tries to persuade him to accept the challenge by reminding him of the way Earth treated him. He eventually agrees to accept the challenge.

Back in the desert, Storm and Forge arrive at the cave where the cacti grow. Forge is overcome with his infection from the Adversary attack. Storm asks him where to find the cactus and he points to a dark, tigh tunnel. Storm struggles with claustrophobia in X-Men: The Animated Series, and that appears to have carried into this series.

Back in space, Charles readies himself to have his mind erased of all memories of Earth. He hesitates though when he is asked about his X-Men and Deathbird points to this as a sign of weakness. She petitions to the council to renounce Lilandra as their leader, which leads to a fight between her guards and Lilandra’s. Surrounded by the chaos, Xavier uses his powers to bring everyone to the astral plane and places them in a classroom.

Back on Earth, Storm makes her way through the dark tunnel to find the cactus. She drops her flashlight and the Adversary crawls out of the shadows. Storm is engulfed in shadow but rather than giving in and living her life without powers, she fights back. Suddenly, the wind begins to blow and we see dark clouds fill the sky outside the cave. Storm regains control of the weather and she blasts the Adversary with lightning. Storm flies out of the cave, now donning her familiar black suit seen in various comics and the X-Men arcade game.

Back in the cabin, Storm places the medicine from the cactus on Forge’s wound, which immediately heals. Forge asks what’s next for them, and proposes vacationing to a tropical island. He turns on the TV though and they see the news report of what has happened in Genosha. Storm watches with tears in her eyes.

Back on the astral plane, Xavier tries to teach the Shi’ar about the wrongdoings on which their empire has been built. He tries to preach peace as the path forward for his students, which they argue against. As he continues his lesson, Xavier is interrupted by visions of what has happened on Genosha. He sees that Gambit has been killed and is then hit with the blast from the giant Sentinel we saw last week.

Now outside of the astral plane, Charles falls to the ground and Lilandra rushes to him. The Shi’ar have seemingly seen what he has seen as well. Charles tells Lilandra he has to return to Earth. She tells him that would end their relationship and he accepts that. He stand and dramatically says “it is time I return to my X-Men,” as the screen cuts to black.

That’s not the end though. We get one more scene that sees Bolivar Trask running away from someone or something. He says he gave them his DNA to access Master Mold and is hit with a blast and knocked to the ground. He begs to be killed for what happened in Genosha, signifying a bit of humanity left for the long-running X-Men villain. We then see that Mister Sinister is the one pulling the strings and is responsible for the attack on Genosha. It appears we have our big bad.

It is interesting that these two stories, were chosen to be told in this one episode. While they had some elements that mirrored each other, they were thematically very different, much like the “Motendo/Lifedeath – Part 1″ episode. However, both stories were incredibly well done and have once again set up some exciting things to come.

X-Men ‘97 is now streaming on Disney+.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."